Portraits of Magical America: Wizard Rockers
from ‘Visions of Johanna: The Bent-Winged Snitches:’
by Garfield Geronimo Hemingway for Rowling Stone Magazine
‘I’m sitting in the inner-sanctum of The Bent-Winged Snitches and it seems like the whole world hums with intensity.
No, it’s not some fancy Hollywood recording studio or a decadent penthouse in the middle of New Orleans, the magical heart of America…
It’s much better than that. We’re lounging on the roof of a rundown apartment in Harlem, with the city and the sky spread out in every direction like a phoenix admiring its feathers.
Muggle sirens and angry dogs serve as a staccato symphony in the background as I listen to Johanna Langston Simone speak.
Simone, the outspoken lead guitarist and singer of the band, sports a glorious afro which often seems to blot out the very sun herself. But her words are what truly captivates you:
“They call us controversial. Like it’s an insult,” she grins and her cocoa-brown eyes flash mischievously, “We just sing it like it is, man.”
Caroline Ringling Forrest, the ‘Snitches’ drummer, hunkers beside Simone and nods her shaggy blonde head in agreement. The Half-Sasquatch, who grew up in Baraboo, Wisconsin, wears a tank top with the words ‘Imperio This, Patriarchy!’ emblazoned across the chest.
“How do you mean?” I say. I have yet to realize Johanna Langston Simone needs no prodding.
“America. The Wizarding World. Love. Magic. The whole frikken kitchen sink.” She spreads out her arms to encompass the Empire City.
“A lot of people just seem to accept things. They don’t try to push the envelope. They don’t fight back. They don’t ask why things are the way they are.” Forrest says.
“Yeah, exactly. Take the whole ‘Dark Arts’ label. I mean, what the hell does that even mean? ‘Dark. Arts.’ First of all, let’s not even get started on the viscous, imperialistic linguistic connotations that come into play when you start calling things you think are evil ‘dark’ or ‘black’. But when you label a whole branch of magic ‘bad’ or ‘forbidden’ or ‘unforgivable’, you shut off the progress and fluidity of magic. You immediately limit that power. It just becomes a tool you manipulate through a phallic piece of wood. You might as well use a gun. That’s not magic. That’s just arithmetic and rote memorization. It’s disgusting.” Simone says. Forrest grips her hand and squeezes.
They don’t let go.
“But you must see that comments like that are why most people in the wizarding world call you ‘controversial.’” I say.
A new voice breaks through the evening. Geo Appleseed. The band’s bassist:
“We see. We do not care.” Appleseed wears sunglasses that glisten in the fading evening light. His long brown hair cascades around a beard Albus Dumbledore would be proud of. Appleseed settles back in his wheelchair and goes silent once more. Every band needs a stoic and he embraces the role with gusto. When he speaks we all listen.
And he’s right.
The Bent-Winged Snitches do not care.
And that is precisely why we all care so much about them.
Two years ago, The Bent-Winged Snitches were just like every other Wizard Rock band. Scraping by in back alleys and mermaid soirees.
But then Johanna Langston Simone wrote ‘Black and Mythological in America’, a soulful ballad about her love affair with Forrest. The wizarding world was forced to take notice. With her fabled fro and her lover’s total rejection of any and all razors, everybody instantly fell in love with both of them and the story of their romance. From nervous teenagers on their first date at a Sheboygan ‘Wursts Quidditch match to international superstars, there wasn’t a wizarding newspaper without their faces smiling and giggling on the front page.
That was, until their sophomore album:
‘Harry Potter is Not My Damn Messiah.’
Many found their flip from media darlings to political songsmiths most disagreeable.
But the ‘Snitches didn’t care. They’d never be apologetic. In fact, in an interview with the Daily Prophet’s infamous Rita Skeeter, Simone said that she would never back down from her views:
“No! Look. These are the facts. While most of you were riding this idiot’s coattails, drinking champagne and getting fat on chocolate frogs, you all failed to realize something. Harry Potter is a terrible wizard. The only reason he even got into Hogwarts was cuz he was a legacy from a rich wizarding dynasty. Simple economics. We all know we’re ruled by an entrenched elite back in England. And I’m not even talking about Voldy-douche’s ideas about blood purity or whatever…look, I’m sorry to burst Potter’s Napoleonic bubble, but he’s not even the best wizard in his marriage!”
Simone went on to advocate the abolition of Hogwarts’ ancient Houses system, citing its “rigid doctrines dictating the actions and attitudes of vulnerable, impressionable children.’
Needless to say, sales of The Bent-Winged Snitches’ music plummeted faster than a drunken troll after a night on the town.
But again, the Snitches didn’t care. They had never been in it for the money.
So, Simone, Forrest, Appleseed, and the ‘Snitch’s Chupacabra keyboardist Gabriel Herrera Diego Diaz (who was unable to attend our interview due to a stint in rehab after a particularly bad goat-nabbing addiction relapse) went back to work on their third album.
And now, three days before ‘The Muggle Blues Again’ hits shelves, I sit with the young band admiring a Manhattan sunset.
“So why ‘The Bent-Winged Snitches?’” I ask.
Simone and Forrest glance at each other out of the corners of their eyes and blush. “Well, because, a, we’re not straight, and b, because the rest of our band is a bunch of misfits as well, and c, because a Quidditch match in Wisconsin started this all. ” Forrest says.
We lapse into silence for a moment as the last natural light slips beyond the horizon. I turn back to them and speak in a quiet voice.
“So, what’s next?”
Simone looks down for a moment. At this point, I can only see her as a faint outline in the darkness.
“I don’t know about us. But for all my wrangling against the power structures of this Earth, I do have hope. They say that America is in decline. That our magic is scattered, weak, disorganized, dying. But that’s not what I see. I see vibrancy and diversity and youth. I see a new generation finding their voice. And I’ll tell you what. Our magic doesn’t need pig latin.”
With this remarkable statement, Johanna Langston Simone picks up her now nigh-mythic acoustic guitar, which has green glowing letters pulsating along its base. They read ‘stitch ends, begin anew.’
She begins to sing.’